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Toxicity of essential oils

Toxicity of essential oils

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Published by gmundy
Toxicology of essential oils used in cosmetic and other preparartions
Toxicology of essential oils used in cosmetic and other preparartions

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Published by: gmundy on Jan 26, 2013
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07/27/2013

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It has always been a challenge to discover the toxicological profile of essential oils anddespite some excellent reference works onthe topic, there has never been a singlereference that supplied all the required data.Sadly, many of the books published onthe topic of aromatherapy have not beenwritten by scientists or toxicologists and thishas meant that there is a great deal of poor quality information circulating whichhas propagated and found its way on to theinternet. The use of the phrase “not tested onanimals” is not only illegal but is also totally without truth, since in nearly all casesthese essential oils have been tested onanimals at one time or another in the past. The LD
50
 value (lethal dose 50%) using animals (usually based on rats or mice)gives a value for the death of half theanimals tested. An LD
50
of 2 g/kg refersto the total weight of material tested/body mass of test animal that caused death inhalf the number tested. Thus, if a humanweighed 70 kg then it might be expectedthat 140 g could be consumed before itwas fatal. The idea that because a material isnatural it therefore must be safe couldnot be further from reality. There are essential oils that are sotoxic that they should never be consumedor applied to the skin without extremecaution. The risks of sensitisation, irritation,phototoxicity or being an abortifacient arefact. Essential oils contain a rich blend of highly functional molecules some of whichare beneficial and others which are not.
General considerations
Finding the results of the oral and dermalstudies is very time consuming and I havecompiled an overview of the oils and their effects in a spreadsheet format (see pagesfollowing this article). This compilation willallow a quick review as to the suitability of anoil in a given product.
Quick summary of unsuitable essential oils
It is useful to check to see if there is a risk associated with an essential oil beforelooking at the spreadsheet pages.
Essential oils that may be dangerousin aromatherapy 
 Almond oil bitter (
Prunus amygdalus
)contains hydrocyanic acid; Armoise oil(
 Artemisia herba-alba
)contains thujones;Boldo leaf (
Peumus boldus
)containsascaridole; Calamus oil (Acorus calamus)contains
β
-asarone type compound;Chenopodium (Wormseed) oil(
Chenopodium ambrosioides
)containsascaridole; Croton oils (
Croton tiglium,C. oblongifolius
); Horseradish oil (
 Amoraciarusticana
)contains allyl isocyanate,phenylethyl isocyanate; Lanyana oil(
 Artemisia afra
)contains thujones; Mustardoil (
Brassica nigra, B. juncea
)contains allylisocyanate; Parsley herb oil (
Petroselinumcrispum
)contains dill apiole; Pennyroyal oil(
Mentha pulegium
)contains pulegone;Perilla oil (
Perilla frutescens
)containsperilla ketone; Savin oil (
 Juniperus sabina
)contains sabinyl acetate; Sassafras oil(
 Sassafras albidum
)contains safrole;Summer Savoury oil (
 Satureja hortensis
); Tansy oil (
Tanacetum vulgare
)containsthujones; Wintergreen oil (
Gaultheria procumbens
)contains methyl salicylate; Wormwood oil (
 Artemisia absinthium
)contains thujones.
Oils that may cause irritation
Bay oil West Indian (
Pimenta racemosa
),Clove oils (stem, leaf, bud)
 Syzygiumaromaticum
,Coriander oil (
Coriandrum sativum
)high linalool content; Ho oil(
Cinnamomum camphora
 var.
linaloolifera
and
Cinnamomum camphora
 var.
 glavescens
)high linalool content; Kuromojioil (
Linda umbellata
)high linalool content;May Chang oil (
Litsea cubeba
), Melissa oil(
Melissa officinalis
), Origanum oil(
Origanum vulgare
), Pimento berry and leaf oils (
Pimenta officinalis
); Rosewood oil(
 Aniba rosaedora
)high linalool content;Summer Savoury oil (
 Satureja hortensis
), Winter Savoury oil (
 Satureja montana
), Tagetes oil (
Tagetes minuta
), Tea Tree oil(
Melaleuca alternifolia
), Thyme oil (
Thymusvulgaris
), Turpentine oil (
Pinus sylvestris
).
Oils that are known to causesensitisation in massage
Cassia oil (
Cinnamomum cassia)
containscinnamic aldehyde, coumarin; Cinnamonbark oil (
Cinnamomum zeylanicum
)contains cinnamic aldehyde; Costus oil,abs, concrete (
 Saussurea lappa
)containssesquiterpene lactones; Elecampane oil(
Inula helenium
)contains sesquiterpenelactones; Fig leaf absolute (
Ficus carica
);Massoia bark oil (
Cryptocarya massoia
)contains massoia lactone; Melissa oil(
Melissa officinalis
)contains citral;Oakmoss (
Evernia prunastri
); Treemoss(
Evernia furfuracea
); Opoponax 
September 2009
PERSONAL CARE
65
Anthony C. Dweck FLS FRSC FRSPH – Technical Editor 
ESSENTIAL OILS
Toxicology of essentialoils reviewed
Detailed information on toxicity and other aspects of essential oils is being providedin a series of spreadsheets. The series starts in pages following this article,and will be continued in subsequent issues of 
Personal Care Asia Pacific
.
 Table 1: Composition of Ylang-ylang oil.
Potential allergen
Cananga odorata
Benzyl alcohol 0.000Benzyl salicylate 3.000Cinnamyl alcohol *Cinnamal*Citral *Coumarin *Eugenol 0.700Geraniol 1.500Isoeugenol * Anise alcohol *Benzyl benzoate 5.000Benzyl cinnamate *Citronellol *Farnesol 2.000Limonene *Linalool 3.000
 
ESSENTIAL OILS
66
PERSONAL CARE
September 2009
(Commiphora erythrea
); Peru balsam andoil (
Myroxylon pereirae
); Styrax (
Liquidamber 
spp); Verbena absolute andoil (
Lippia citriodora
);Tea absolute(
Camellia sinensis
);Turpentine oil (
Pinus
spp); Lemon Myrtle oil (
Backhousiacitriodora
)contains high citral/citronellalcontent; Inula (
Inula graveolens
)containssesquiterpene lactones.
Oils that are phototoxic
 Amni visnaga oil (
 Amni visnaga
); Angelicaroot oil (
 Angelica archangelica
);Bergamotoil expressed (
Citrus aurantium bergamia
);Cumin oil (
Cuminum cyminum
); Fig leaf absolute (
Ficus carica
); Grapefruit oilexpressed (
Citrus paradisi
); Lemon oil coldpressed (
Citrus medica limonum
); Lime oilexpressed (
Citrus aurantifolia
); Mandarinoil cold-pressed (
Citrus reticulata
);Opoponax oil, absolute, resinoid(
Commiphora erythrea
); Orange oil bitter (
Citrus aurantium amara
); Parsley leaf oil(
Petroselinum crispum
); PetitgrainMandarin oil (
Citrus reticulata
 var.
mandarin
); Rue oil (
Ruta graveolens
); Tagetes oil and absolute (
Tagetes minuta
); Tangerine oil cold-pressed (
Citrusreticulata
); Verbena oil (
Lippia citriodora
).
Pregnancy and effects on thereproductive system (abortifacient)
Chaste Tree oil (
Vitex agnus-castus
);Plectranthus oil (
Plectranthus fruticosa
);Parsley leaf oil (
Petroselinum crispum
);Spanish sage oil (
 Salvia lavandulaefolia
);Savin oil (
 Juniperus sabina
).
Pregnancy and effectson the reproductive system(avoid during pregnancy)
Balsamite contains camphor; Camphor, White (
Cinnamomum camphora
)containscamphor; Ho leaf oil (
Cinnamomumcamphora
 var.
linaloolifera
and
Cinnamomum camphora
 var.
 glavescens
)contains safrole and camphor; Hyssop oil(
Hyssopus officinalis
)containspinocamphone; Dill seed oil (
 Anethum graveolens
)contains apiol; Juniper oil(
 Juniperus pfitzeriana
);Parsley leaf andseed oils (
Petroselinum crispum
)containapiol; Plectranthus Oil (
Plectranthusfruticosa
)contains sabinyl acetate;Spanish sage oil (
 Salvia lavandulaefolia
)contains sabinyl acetate; Savin oil(
 Juniperus sabina
)contains sabinylacetate.
Pregnancy and effectson the reproductive system(use with caution duringpregnancy)
 Wormwood oil (
 Artemisia absinthium
)contains thujones; Brazilian Cangerana oil(
Cabralea cangerana
Sald.) [Syn.
C. glaberrima
]contains safrole; FrenchLavender (
Lavandula stoechas
)containscamphor; Perilla oil (
Perilla frutescens
)contains perilla ketone; Rue (
Ruta graveolens
)contains chalepensin[3-(
α
-,
α
-dimethylallyl) psoralen, 13%]; Tree Moss (
Evernia furfuracea
)containsatranorin, physodic acid, furfuracinic acid,and chloro-atranorin.
Pregnancy and effectson the reproductive system(not to be used orally, rectally or vaginally during pregnancy)
 Anise (
Pimpinella anisum
)containsanethole; Fennel (
Foeniculum vulgare
)contains anethole; Lavandin (
Lavandulahybrida
)contains camphor, FrenchLavender (
Lavandula stoechas
)containscamphor; Mace (
Myristica fragrans
)contains safrol and myristicin (which areboth contraindicated in pregnancy);Nutmeg (
Myristica fragrans
)containssafrole and myristicin; Rosemary (
Rosmarinus officinalis
)contains camphor;Spike Lavender (
Lavandula latifolia
)contains higher camphor levels than other lavender spp; Star Anise (
Illicium verum
)contains anethole; Yarrow (
 Achilleamillefolium
)contains camphor.
Oils that are carcinogenic
Birch tar oil crude (
Betula panda
)containspolynuclear hydrocarbons; Cade oil crude(
 Juniperus oxycedrus
)contains polynuclear hydrocarbons; Calamus oil (
 Acoruscalamus
)contains
β
-asarone type;Cinnamomum porrectum oil; Croton oils(
Croton tiglium, C. oblongifolius
);
Ocoteacymbarum
oil; Sassafras oils (
 Sassafrasalbidum
)contains safrole.
Oils that are carcinogenicto rodents (Methyl eugenol)
Bay oil, West Indian (
Pimenta racemosa
)to 12.6% (
Methyl eugenol
); Basil oils(
Ocimum
spp) some chemotypes to 65%
 Table 2: SAF and product type consumer exposure levels that drive the IFRA QRA categories.
IFRA QRA SAFCategory consumer Product type that drives Maximum pragmatic levelcategory exposure the category consumer1mg/cm
2
 /dayexposure level
Category 130011.70000Lip productsNot necessary, acceptable exposure level derived from QRACategory 23009.10000Deodorants/antiperspirantsNot necessary, acceptable exposure level derived from QRACategory 33002.20000Hydroalcoholics for shaved skinNot necessary, acceptable exposure level derived from QRACategory 41002.20000Hydroalcoholics for unshaved skinNot necessary, acceptable exposure level derived from QRACategory 51004.20000Hand creamNot necessary, acceptable exposure level derived from QRACategory 61001.40000MouthwashNot necessary, acceptable exposure level derived from QRACategory 73004.40000Intimate wipes Not necessary,acceptable exposure level derived from QRACategory 81001.00000Hair styling aids
2%
 The maximum concentration will not exceed 2% andmay be lower if determined by the QRACategory 91000.20000Rinse-off hair conditioners
5%
 The maximum concentration will not exceed 5% andmay be lower if determined by the QRACategory 101000.10000Hard surface cleaners
2.5%
 The maximum concentration will not exceed 2.5% andmay be lower if determined by the QRACategory 11100.00033CandlesThese products result in negligible skin contact. The approach for a pragmatic concentration of fragranceingredient in this category is explained in associated notes The category consumer exposure level (mg/cm
2
 /day) is driven by the product type in that category with the combined highestconsumer exposure level and highest Sensitisation Assessment Factor (SAF).
 
ESSENTIAL OILS
September 2009
PERSONAL CARE
67
 Table 3: IFRA categories for dermal sensitisation, QRA approach, arranged by category.
Product type Maximum pragmatic level Comments
Category 1
Not necessary, acceptable exposure levelderived from QRALip products of all types: Products that contain sunscreen or sun block are not listedsolid and liquid lipsticks, separately and are included in the major product type (e.g. lipbalms, clear or coloured, etc.creams containing sunscreen are included in the lip productcategory). Due to the possibility of ingestion of small amounts of fragrance ingredients, materials present in the fragrance compoundfor use in this category must be approved for use in food, meaning that all ingredients should be listed as having “no safety concern”,for example by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and/or as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) inaccordance with the US Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act ToysThis product type has been placed in Category 1 based on theabsence of exposure data. Should exposure data become available,this product type may be re-categorised. Due to the possibility of ingestion of small amounts of fragrance ingredients (if oral exposureis foreseeable), materials present in the fragrance compound for usein this toy category must be approved for use in food, meaning thatall ingredients should be listed as having “no safety concern”, for example by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives(JECFA) and/or as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) inaccordance with the US Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act
Category 2
Not necessary, acceptable exposure levelderived from QRADeodorant and antiperspirantproducts of all types:spray, stick, roll-on,under-arm and body, etc.
Category 3
Not necessary, acceptable exposure levelderived from QRAHydroalcoholic products appliedto recently shaved skinEye products of all types:eye shadow, mascara, eyeliner,eye make-up, etc.Men’s facial creams, balms Tampons
Category 4
Not necessary, acceptable exposure levelderived from QRAHydroalcoholic products appliedto unshaved skinHair styling aids, hair spraysof all types: pumps,aerosol sprays, etc.Body creams, oils, lotions, Products that contain sunscreen or sun block are not listedfragrancing creams of all types,separately and are included in the major product type e.g. lipbaby creams, etc.creams containing sunscreen are included in the lip product categorIngredients of perfume kitsFragrance compounds for cosmetic kitsScent strips for hydroalcoholic These product types have been placed in Category 4 based on theproducts, scratch and sniffabsence of exposure data, but it is recognised that these productssamples, other paper products have similarities to hydroalcoholic products applied to unshaved skin.not mentioned elsewhere for Should exposure data become available, these product types may which skin exposure is only be re-categorisedincidental (e.g. spectaclecleaning tissues)Foot care productsThis product type has been placed in Category 4 based on theabsence of exposure data, but it is recognised that this product issimilar to body creams and lotions. Should exposure data becomeavailable, this product type may be re-categorisedHair deodorantThis product type has been placed in Category 4 based on theabsence of exposure data, but it is recognised that this product issimilar to hair styling aids and hair sprays. Should exposure databecome available, this product type may be re-categorised
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